Sunday, 24 July 2016

Takeley 1 v 3 Hoddesdon Town

Saturday 23rd July 2016
Pre-season Friendly
Station Road, Takeley
Admission: Donation
Programme: None
Attendance: 38 (head count)
Match Rating: 3

With temperatures forecast to be in the mid to high twenties today, which could result in a friendly match being played at a lethargic pace, I searched for a ground that would be easy on the eye and a pleasant place to spend a summer’s day. A visit to a typical village club in north-west Essex fitted the bill perfectly.

Station Road is about a half hour walk from Stansted Airport train station and is located very close to the centre of the small village of Takeley. Spectators enter via full height turnstiles having paid admission at a wooden hut, entering the ground in a corner. It is a neat and tidy venue, which appears perfectly adequate for the step up to Isthmian League should they qualify on the pitch, and has plenty of character as well as a nice rural setting. Immediately along the length from the entrance is a brick building housing the changing rooms and a tea bar, and then a grey portakabin, which was not in use today. The main, all-seater stand straddles the half way line, but several pylons get in the way of one’s view from inside. There is just hard standing along the remainder of the length and behind both goals. Along the remaining length, a small all-seater stand is positioned to one side of the dugouts, and more basic cover for a small area of standing to the other. There is no clubhouse present inside the ground, which was a shame on a hot day like today, and some attractive club signage inside the ground also would further enhance a very pleasant setting. No programmes were produced today.

Takeley finished in 17th place in the 21 team Essex Senior League last season, while Hoddesdon Town finished in 3rd place in the parallel Spartan South Midlands League Premier Division, 13 points adrift of the champions and the sole promotion berth. The two teams met in the FA Vase last season, with Hoddesdon progressing after a replay.

On a very warm summer’s afternoon, which occasionally clouded over, this was very much a game of two halves, with Hoddesdon much the better team in the first half. They took the lead on 34 minutes, a lovely diagonal dinked ball towards the six yard box was met with a placed header that went across the keeper and into the net. They doubled their lead on 43 minutes, when defenders failed to deal with a low driven cross from the right and although the two Hoddesdon forwards got in each other’s way initially, the ball fell kindly and was eventually struck home powerfully from 8 yards. It was a well deserved two goal lead at the break, and could have been more convincing.

After struggling for most of the first half, Takeley were much the better side in the second half, doing most of the attacking. They pulled a goal back on 55 minutes when a low drive across goal was turned into the net from a central position, and it seemed a matter of time until they would get back on level terms. However, out of the blue, Hoddesdon were awarded a soft looking penalty on 68 minutes when their player was apparently barged over as he ran away from goal. After a lengthy delay whilst the Hoddesdon player received treatment, the penalty was struck into the left side of the goal despite the keeper getting very close to saving it. That was just a blip in Takeley's dominance of the second half, as they came close on several occasions to scoring a second, but it wasn’t to be. But as results count for very little pre-season, Takely could be very pleased with their second half performance, and Hoddesdon with their first, with the competitive season just a week away now.

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